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December 26, 2019

Dave Aranda

Atlanta, Georgia

DAVE ARANDA: I remember saying to him, they know exactly where to go with the ball. I think that was a credit offensive scheme-wise, I think it's a credit to Joe Burrow, too, is that the weakness of whatever we were doing, whatever coverage variation we had, they went right to it, and there was no kind of getting around it. And I think that has been the case throughout our spring and fall camp and that's been the case throughout the season. They're able to identify and attack the weaknesses of people's alignments, structure, personnel, and get to it quick.

Q. You've been around for a good amount of time. Where does Joe Burrow stack up in terms of guys that -- I guess you have week to week kind of prepared for him a little bit.
DAVE ARANDA: Yeah, he's the best one I've been around. There's been some good ones. Texas Tech with Kliff Kingsbury, Houston we had Kevin Cobb, and Hawai'i we had Bryant Moniz, which was a big player for us. I think the difference with Joe is just his ability to be an offensive coordinator on the field. I think there's guys that can make throws, there's guys that can improvise. There's guys that can bring an intelligence to the game but not to the level that I'm used to, not to the level that Joe brings.

Q. So you see Jalen Hurts on the other sideline. When you saw this match-up did you think, I can't shake this guy, he's everywhere?
DAVE ARANDA: Yeah, I've got such respect for him. Just his story, the way he goes about his business, his demeanor, his approach to everything, his being in the spotlight as much as he's been. I have a lot of respect for how he handles it, one. And then as a player, he's improved as a passer. If you load up on the run, which they force you to do because they've got the math advantage over you with him as a runner, so you load up on the run, then you're short in your pass. The question, though, has been can he make you regret doing it that way, and there's multiple times this season that that's been the case.

So that combined with some gadget plays and some innovation on offense, it's a beast. So I feel like our -- I'm glad we've had time to prepare, so I think our practices have been great. Guys clearly understand what's ahead of them, the challenge. They're focused, and I feel really confident in what we've been able to accomplish.

But you get into the game, and we're going to have to see where it goes and adjust as is because it could be a run-centric game, it could be, yeah, he's making throws with simple coverage and we've got to adjust that.

Q. Just for your defense this year, you've all come under a lot of scrutiny at times, but the last three weeks of the season you seemed to play your best football. What was the turning point for you guys?
DAVE ARANDA: Well, I think that's a good question. We're at our most healthy now. I also feel the standards at LSU are so high, which I love, and I've always seen LSU as a defensive school. And so when we early in the year did not hold to that standard, I think that a lot of criticism came. And so I think those issues that we had early on were issues of, one, finding who we are, knowing like what we do best, and this particular year, with this particular group I think we've settled into that.

Two is, hey, we're scoring a lot of points, and it's not about just winning the game anymore. It's about dominating the other opponent on your side of the ball on defense. A lot of those points were coming in second halves when we were up.

So the push from me would be to finish the game, would be to focus every play, would be to -- the scoreboard doesn't matter, and I think we struggled with that pretty severely at times.

And then three would be when the criticism would start, and we'd still be dealing with both one and two, different guys in the game because of injuries, and then two were up again, so we're trying to deal with how to finish four quarters. Things would go bad, and at this stage the criticism would start again. Then we'd get guys that would kind of push and stress, and I'm hearing this stuff about me, so I'm going to try to make a play to get it to quiet down, or hey, they're saying this about us. I'm playing on the right but I'm going to go make a play on the left. So that was the third mix.

And so I think to work through that and get everyone on the same page, that's a credit to the players and a credit to the coaches.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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